How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Yelm Washington
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Yelm WA. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Yelm residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Washington and within the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Yelm WA, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B CDL is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Yelm WA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Yelm WA truck driver schools are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Yelm WA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Washington licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Washington and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Yelm WA schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the Yelm WA school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Yelm WA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some Yelm WA truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Washington, ask if the Yelm WA schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Washington testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Yelm WA school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession in Yelm WA. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed in Yelm WA.
Why Did You Want to Be a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters often ask truck driving candidates is "What compelled you to select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a trucker, but also what characteristics and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should ready several approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Pick the Best CDL School Yelm WA
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Yelm WA.
A Bit About Yelm Washington
Yelm /jɛlm/ is a city in Thurston County, Washington, US. Its population was 6,848 at the 2010 census. It ranked 10th of 279 eligible incorporated communities in Washington for population growth from 2000–2010.
Yelm is in southeast Thurston County, Washington. It is a suburban city, surrounded by other suburban cities and pockets of unincorporated Thurston County. It is near the major transportation routes of Interstate 5 and State Routes 507, 510 and 702, which connect it economically and socially to the greater Puget Sound Region and provide a gateway to Mount Rainier.
The Yelm Prairie was originally inhabited by the Nisqually and provided good pasture for their horses. The first permanent non-indigenous settlers came in 1853 to join the Hudson's Bay Company sheep farmers who already conducted business in the area.
With the coming of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1873, Yelm began to prosper, having found an outlet for its agricultural and forestry products. Its economic base was further enhanced when an irrigation company was formed in 1916, making Yelm a center for commercial production of beans, cucumbers and berries.
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